A forensic scientist says more is being learned about the long-term dangers of abusing what he calls synthetic drugs. He’s been asked to take his message to a Missouri audience.

Jeremy Morris works at the Johnson County, Kansas crime lab. He will talk with a Brookfield audience Saturday about the latest information on these synthetic drugs. He says the two most common are cannabinoids, commonly thought of as synthetic marijuana and marketed as incense or potpourri, and cathinones, marketed as bath salts.

Law enforcement officers have long said one of the dangers about abusing these compounds is that so little is known about the long-term effects of their use. Morris says based on short-term effects, scientists now know they interact with the same parts of the brain as marijuana and cocaine.

He points to a particular cannabinoid product, “AM694…” Morris explains (AUDIO)

As for cathinones, Morris says it is being learned that they cause cardiovascular damage comparable to that caused by cocaine and induce far more hallucinations than cannabinoids.

Morris takes issue with makers of these compounds who say they are intended only for use as incense or bath salts.

When laws have been passed making some of these synthetic compounds illegal, makers have simply changed the composition to something not covered by the law. Morris says in some cases, the result has been users not knowing how to handle the new product.

Morris encourages people, especially parents, not to be naive about the dangers of these compounds and to intervene if they know of cases of abuse. He believes they should be illegal except in the case of controlled research into possible medical applications.

His Dangers of Synthetic Drugs Seminar begins with a session for teenagers from 2 until 4 p.m. at the Brookfield Area Career Center Saturday afternoon. It will be followed by a second session for adults, parents and concerned citizens from 6 until 9 p.m.

AUDIO: Mike Lear interviews Jeremy Morris [Mp3, 16:34 min.]